For me, going through calculators and surmising the various possibilities of the mesmer profession is as fun for me as playing the game itself. I’m a builder, I enjoy the intricacies of making a profession work, even in some of the most odd combinations. Thus, this thread is about “builds”, but no one specific build, but all of them, and the instances they are useful in. Sample builds will be included at the end of this section.
There is no one “best” build for a mesmer, as it will in large part depend on where you are and what you are doing. A PvP build will obviously be inferior to a PvE build if you are doing PvE, and a sPvP build may not work so well in large group scenarios such as WvW. Each build has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and this thread is to explore those possibilities.
It is important to note one major thing for any build. The combinations of weapon skills to secondary and elite skills is the very first thing someone should consider. While the two skill types don’t often directly interact, it should be something you keep in mind as far as combos, aka Combo Fields. You may look at your build and notice that with your weapon choices and your secondary skills, you may not have a single combo ability. While not a bad thing inherently, it should be something you consider.
The second most important decision you will make about your mesmer is what Traits are you going to use. This decision is almost, and in some cases more so then the first, just as important to a characters build. Traits tend to be great on focusing on a single aspect of the character. The question becomes what can traits actually focus on? The reality is, just about everything a mesmer has at their disposal has a trait somewhere for it.
The question becomes, do you focus on weapon skill(s) with your traits for an increase in damage? Do you focus on a single ability, like phantasms? Do you go a balanced route that improves upon more then one ability or skill? There are literally thousands of ways, you can build a mesmer, and each will have it’s own subtle difference. And those subtle differences will make larger changes then you might think.
The most important thing to think about when you are theory crafting or going to test a build is ask yourself a few questions:
-What’s it’s purpose? PvE, PvP, WvW, Dungeons?
-What are you going to focus on or try to improve with traits? Weapon abilities, skills, cooldowns, ect?
-How do the weapon skills and your secondary skills mesh, if they do at all?
-How do your skills both weapon and secondary mesh with your traits?
I think it’s important that every person planning to play a mesmer, spends at least some time trying out a few things in the Mists, even if you have no gumption to ever PvP. Why? So you can TRY IT OUT. GW2 gives you the ability from level 2 on to try everything out you could possibly desire. You can practice on target dummies and many other entities in the Mists. See what works for you, and what doesn’t. Just because you see someone else’s build, doesn’t mean you’ll have the same success with it. So I implore you, try stuff out before you plan to go a specific way, especially those of you more focused on PvE, after all, in PvE, it costs money to make changes to your character.
And the Samples:
A sample PvE build. This build has one focus: Phantasms.
Check it here
You’ll notice a few things about the build right off, other things are a bit more subtle.
The first thing you’ll likely notice is that it uses 1hd Sword for both primary weapons. While not always considered a “good” strategy or use of a weapon, the sword has some of the lowest cooldowns as far as weapon skills a mesmer has access to. With this build, all the sword cooldowns are 10seconds, so that’s faster then the other weapons, so it’s still worth using. The other weapon skills that are lower in cooldown produce clones, and for this build while useful in a pinch, clones are not desired.
As to the phantasms themselves, they deal a lot of damage, give you excellent defensive abilities, and they don’t die easily compared to regular phantasms and definitely not as easily as clones.
There is some behind the scenes abilities that make this build effective. One of those subtleties is that for each Phantasm you make, you are given regeneration at the time of their casting. This in turn also gives you protection (status protection) for two seconds. The clones, while not a focus of this build are highly useful at the start of a fight for use in shattering.
As to gear enhancement, it is showing the PvP equivalent Runes and Sigils, bare in mind there are PvE versions of these as well given by heart vendors for Karma, and may also be available through various dungeons. You’ll notice your heal gives you regeneration as well because of the runes, add in the trait and you remove a condition too. Useful for some of those enemies that like to use cripple.
Overall this build is very solid and a good starting point for people who want to focus on phantasms for PvE. You’ll be tough as nails, able to keep your phantasms alive because they each regenerate each other, and you as well. With high hp, good armor, and a healthy dose of defense (50% reduction by a phantasm plus an added 3% reduction for each illusion up), you should be able to take on most pve challenges by yourself and still come out of it alive.
A Sample PvP build. This build has two focus points: Conditions and Clones.
Check it here.
This is a build I came up with for PvP. It focuses on conditions given by the staff, and the added conditions and boons given by the clones. Since clones share the weapon of the mesmer upon their creation, they also have the ability to inflict any secondary effects the same as a mesmers current weapon. The second focus of clones is the ability to make clones consistently even if they are destroyed due to their very low hp. You can make clones by skills, weapon and even by dodging. This is handy for putting out extra conditions and also for setting up to shatter the illusions.
The subtleties of this build are in the given secondary skills. Both of your clone maker secondaries are also stun breakers. You also have the ability to stun your foe or improve condition damage with the signet. The final trump card is the Moa Morph. Unlike every other “condition” in the game, Moa can not be removed by the person who is effected by it, and it’s got a good duration of 10 seconds. With the given runes, you also gain protection/regeneration when you heal, which is very handy vs certain control builds such as control built warriors and guardians.
The secondary weapon gives you good damage when a foe inevitably tries to close into melee range with you. Any foe who does not get on you, is going to die or be forced to flee. The torch gives you an on call invisibility for when you need some extra time to hide. With decoy this gives you 2 escapes. Given that this build could be considered an opposite to the previous listed build, your phantasms are often gonna be the priority for shattering when needed. This can be done offensively or defensively as always.
Trait wise this build desires to keep clones up most of the time, and overall they are not expected to be shattered for anything but defensively, as it will lower your DPS by quite a bit.
Overall this build is also solid, but it is not bursty by any means. This build relies on cold calculated damage, that becomes cumulative over time. In a war of attrition, even the most defensive builds among the professions will fall if played right. This build is for those that are of the patient type.
One final note on this build, it can be swapped to a PvE build since many of the traits are specific to “illusions” (both phantasms and clones), thus by swapping out weapons and secondary skills, it can easily become an effective PvE build.
A Sample High Damage/High Crit or “Glass Cannon” build. The focus here is more PvP.
This is one of those fun builds that relies on ugly straight forward damage and a high crit%.
Check it here
This build is often called a “shatter build” because one of it’s focuses is to use shatter as often as you can, but with out the focus on illusions, as each weapon can create a clone and illusion each, as well as that dodging will also give you a clone. The only downside to this build is there isn’t really any subtlety to it, and it lacks having higher HP. Some minor secondary and elite skill changes can be used if you want to use a PvE variation of the build. You may also want to substitute the Scepter for the 1hd Sword, if keeping illusions out is desired, and your having difficulties keeping them up.
This build gets an extremely high crit percentage of 71%. How often this build crits is just at stupid levels. It relies on rotating clones and phantasms both for shattering. With the changes to the Mantra trait, you can use each mantra 3 times before you have to stop and focus. It should be noted that the mantra trait does not effect the mantra heal, and thus it isn’t the one being used. With damage, dazing and removing daze from yourself, this build has a lot of control and burst damage.
Overall, this is a very fun build as the damage comparable to other mesmer builds is just staggering and can surprise people. Unfortunately it has almost no survivability, and if you get focused you drop quickly. On the PvE side of the house, if you are good at dodging and keeping a decent amount of clones and phantasms up, you can actually make this build very effective. Just be mindful that this build isn’t recommended for use during your personal story if you are solo.
A Sample WvW build. This build focuses on Flanking or positioning.
Check it here
This build is highly defensive and used primarily as team support. It focuses on the aspects that are often needed in WvW, the need for movement and even secrecy. You have the ability to move an entire group through the use of the portal. You have multiple ways to make you’re entire team invisible. Your traits focus on making these stronger. Runes and Sigils are designed to help give you some staying power to help support the team. You’ll have a very impressive HP level of over 32k. You also can summon clones for defensive tactics by way of the scepter, possibly confusing foes into believing a clone is you. Just keep in mind, don’t act like a player all the time, sometimes just standing still and blending in can help you avoid damage you may need to heal later.
The subtlety of this build belies in the fact you are using glamor skills, that can indirectly help defend a team. Each time you use a glamor skill, the location also creates a blind effect on enemy players. This in turn also adds confusion to them as well.
This is a build that could see several variants, but its bottom line is that it may also see use by guilds and small groups of friends trying to accomplish the various objectives of WvW. Whether that be ambushing a nearby group, position for distractions, or just avoiding the zerg so that you can take something the enemy has now left undefended.
While your damage won’t be anything to write home about, this skill set is something only a mesmer can do, as no other profession can even come close to the guerrilla warfare capabilities of a Mesmer. Move, elude, and conquer, is the motto of this build, and if you have plenty of friends you play with regularly, they will be amazed at what you’re capable of.
A Ranged Build. This build focuses on having and keeping ranged. More of a PvE focus.
Check it here
This build is for those lazy players among us that don’t want to worry about having to deal with melee, or micromanaging our secondary skills. We want our distance vs our enemy and we want to keep it that way, and not have to worry so much about our foe.
The way this is accomplished is by our choice of weapons. We take the scepter to give us a way to spam clones on the opponent and keep them from getting to excited and coming after us. Even if the enemy does some how decide to ignore the clone spam, or because they are able to easily kill the clones which does happen, you have a way to get em off you. With the great sword secondary you have both a clone and a phantasm to give them something else to worry about, and also a knock back effect with skill 5. The Runes and Sigils for this build are for keeping illusions up and for allowing defensive play. Trait wise we boost the use of signets, and help us to maintain distance, with some added survival added in as well.
This combination of skills and weapons allows for a fairly relaxed play style. You don’t have to worry about running all over the place or having to worry that running away might be an issue. If used correctly you will never actually be the target of hate from an NPC, or at least wont be for long. You’re damage remains fairly high and a fair crit rate of 25%. This build also excels for those people who tend to bite off more then they should chew. If you prefer a kiting style and playing keep away with your foe since they enemy is likely much higher level then you, then this build can serve you well. You have the damage and defenses to keep things in your favor and enough distractions to keep any foe occupied. Great for some of those “Skill Challenges” where the NPC is a lot tougher for their level.
Management of this build is very simple, since it relies heavily on signet you wont even have to be worried about using your secondary skills unless you just desire their activation effects for some escape or buffing options. Even with just the passives, you’ll get some good mileage from them with this build. Easy and simple, and sometimes enjoying a relaxing play style can be a nice change of pace.